Inaugural Lecture - Prof. Sara Bonetti


Event details

Date 31.05.2023
Hour 17:3019:30
Speaker Prof. Sara Bonetti
Location Online
Category Inaugural lectures - Honorary Lecture
Event Language English
Date: 31 May 2023
Time: 17:30 - 19:30
Introductions by the Dean, lectures by Prof. Meret Aeppli, Prof. Ianina Altshuler and Prof. Sara Bonetti. Followed by an Apero.
Place: CO 1
Zoom link

From roots to landscapes: catchment processes across scales

Catchments are natural integrators of a wide array of biotic and abiotic processes (e.g., surface/subsurface water dynamics, cycling of carbon and nutrients, soil erosion) and providers of key ecosystem services (e.g., water regulation, biodiversity, food and energy production). Yet, in light of the complex interactions of multiple biophysical processes and the high spatial variability of their features, our ability to describe catchment dynamics across different spatio-temporal scales is still limited. Here, efforts and opportunities in the representation of small‐scale soil and hydrological processes for regional and global scale applications are first considered. We will show that, under certain climatic conditions, small-scale soil structure features may prominently alter the hydrologic response emerging at larger scales. Such hydrologic alterations have notable implications for soil erosion and carbon dynamics, potentially affecting regional and global carbon budgets. The concept of catchments as dynamic landscapes is then introduced to show how natural processes and human interventions regulate the evolution of catchment properties and fluxes in space and time. Particularly, the impact of agricultural land use on soil erosion and carbon dynamics is briefly discussed to highlight the need for holistic descriptions of catchment processes that integrate complex interactions acting over a wide range of spatio-temporal scales. Progress on this front is key to understand system dynamics, identify drivers of change, and ultimately build predictive models to foresee the consequences of climate and land use change, devise optimal land management strategies, and avoid critical transitions to unsustainable conditions.

About the speaker
Prof. Sara Bonetti joined EPFL in September 2022 as a Tenure Track Assistant Professor in Catchment Hydrology and Geomorphology. Before joining EPFL, she was Assistant Professor at the Soil Physics and Land Management Group at Wageningen University (the Netherlands). She received a BSc degree in 2009 and a MSc degree in 2011 in Civil Engineering, both from the University of Padova (Italy). From 2012 to 2014 she was a research assistant, first at Duke University (USA) and then at the University of Padova (Italy). In 2018, she obtained her PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Duke University, with a doctoral dissertation on the analysis and modelling of landscape evolution and soil erosion. From August 2018 to July 2020, she was a postdoctoral associate at the Soil and Terrestrial Environmental Physics group at ETH Zurich (Switzerland) and, from March 2020 to September 2021, she worked as a research fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Resources at University College London (UK). Her work focuses on the development of quantitative tools for the description of coupled ecohydrological and geomorphological processes in natural and managed ecosystems.

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  • SSIE - Christina Treier

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